Reported by CRC Case Manager Victor Kanu
Over the course of several weeks, the CRC case managers rescued ten boys from the streets of Bo, with the assistance of Street Child UK. The boys' families were traced and contacted about being reunited with their children. During a stay in the CRC's interim care home to stabilize their situations, the boys were prepared for reunion. The CRC brought the families together for special counseling sessions before they were reunified. Going forward, the families will continue to be mentored by their CRC case managers, and will receive support for their children's education and health care.
These are some of the boys' stories.
(*Names have been changed to protect the identity of these children.)
Theo*- age not known.
“I have been on the streets of Bo for three months. I was attending school in Junior Secondary School and I was supposed to take the BECE exam. I survived by finding scrap metal and selling it to people in the market. The CRC recommended that I go back home, but I was afraid of my father. Fortunately for me, my father has gone back to [another village] and I can now go back home,” he shared.
Theo wants to go back to school and sit for the BECE exams. He promised to cooperate with the CRC and take his schoolwork seriously. “We have tried our level best to get Theo out of the streets, but we could not,” his grateful mother told CRC Director Olivia Fonnie and TCM Senior Consultant David Musa.
Tony*- age 18
“My father is dead, and my mother is alive, but she is deaf. We stayed with my grandmother in the same house. I decided to go to the street because I was afraid of my late father. When my father was alive, he would go to the street and bring me back home anytime I ran away. Finally, when my father got sick and taken to the village for medication, I decided to stay on the street.”
“Life in the street was very difficult. To have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to sleep was a challenge. After the CRC identified me, I decided to go back home to reunite with my family. At first, I was not too sure of the CRC’s support, but I have realized now that it is beneficial to me and my family. I am currently at home with my beloved family and also helping with domestic work.”
Tony told his case manager George Kulanda that he wants to go back to school and retake the BECE exam, so that he can advance to Senior Secondary school. He says he is happier at home than he was on the street and hopes to help other street kids understand that the street is not a good place for them and that they should go home.
John* - age 16
“I went to the street because my parents got separated, leaving me and the other siblings all alone to cater for ourselves. No caring, no food, no proper shelter; no one was there to take care of us. I was in class six but because there was nobody to take care of my needs, I had to drop out of school and join the boys who are on the street.”
“I have been on the street for over five years. Fighting, stealing, doing many filthy things just to survive. I also sell old metals to survive. I am happy that CRC came and rescued me from the street. I am ready to go back home, I want to go back to school to acquire some skills. I want to become a tiler in the future. I thank God and thank the CRC for that.”
Kenny* – age 14
“I was selling food on the street to help my family when I lost the money I had made. So I was afraid to go back home because I knew my mummy would flog me. I found some boys who are living in the street and they told me to stay with them,” Kenny said.
“The CRC found me and helped me go home to my mother. It was very difficult for me to go back, but I am really tired of the street life and I want to stay with my mom and go back to school. I want to become somebody and help other kids living in the street, because it’s really not easy living in the street.”
“I have not seen my child for about two years,” Kenny’s mom told the case managers when they located her. “I appreciate you very much for finding him. Please bring him home, I want to see him,” she said gratefully.
Musa* – age 14
“My parents are dead. I was staying with my grandmother and we only survived by selling vegetables in the market. Unfortunately, my grandmother got sick and she was not able to provide food for the home. That’s what drove me to the street. I was the one providing food for myself and my grandmother at home, by picking up scrap metal to sell.”
Musa was in class 5 when he left school in 2017. He had spent four years on the street. “Musa wants to go back to school,” his case manager Deborah Kanneh said. Musa promised that if the CRC helped him return to school, he would stay home and not return to the street.
Mohamed* - age not known
“I was staying in Moyamba with my grandfather when my mother brought me to Bo. More than twelve years ago, my father went away to work in a diamond mine to support the family, but he never returned. We were not getting any news whether he was alive or not, and my mother was finding it very difficult to take care of me and support her other kids. I was 9 years old, in class 3 when I went to the street and have been there ever since. My mother sent me to sell cakes on the street but I lost the money I made, and I was afraid to return home, so I never did.”
Ansumana* - age 16
After Ansumana’s father died, things were really difficult for his mother. He dropped out of school to help the family make enough money to survive, his case manager Adie Abu-Mattia explained.
“I started working for people just to get food to eat, and I made friends with those street boys. One day I moved to the street and stayed there for over six years. While staying with those boys in the street, I was going through difficulty, not enough food to eat, no place to sleep. At night they asked me to go out and steal people’s property and when I got caught, I got a serious beating. I am so tired of being on the street I want to learn how to become a driver,” Ansumana explained.
Alpha* - age 14
“My parents are alive. My father is a carpenter, and my mom is a petty trader. I was attending primary school in class 5. I decided to leave school and told my father that I want to become an electrician. My father
agreed that I could go learn a trade. But only a week later, I dropped out and went to join the boys on the street,” Alpha said.
“When Alpha was on the street, his parents were searching for him, but he was nowhere to be found,” his case manager Amie Nallo explained. “Life was not really easy for him. He became sick and had no medication and no proper care on the street. So he has already made up his mind to go back home and continue to learn a skill.”
Munda* – age 15
Munda’s father is a retired soldier and is mother is a petty trader. He was attending primary school when his father remarried and took him to Freetown to continue his education there. He took the NPSE exam to promote to Junior Secondary but dropped out of school. “I was staying with my stepmother and the suffering was too much,” he says. “I don’t know the whereabouts of my mother. My friend influenced me to go to the street and stay with him. I was on the street for more than three years. When my father went out to look for me, I hid because I didn’t want him to find me.”
“But there were a lot of challenges. At night, the older kids asked me to go and steal people’s property and when I got caught, I was seriously beaten. No good food, no place to sleep, and when I got, sick no medication for me. I had already made up my mind to return back home so that I can continue my education.”
Scenes from the family reunions of the boys rescued from the streets of Bo.
Four children were brought into the Child Reintegration Centre's Interim Care Home with the assistance of Street Child, which identifies homeless children on the streets of Bo. The CRC will care for the children in the ICH while their families are traced. The children will receive counseling and be prepared for reintegration with a family.
The Child Reintegration Centre continues the collaboration with Street Child UK to identify on the streets of Bo, so they can be reunified with their families.
Children run away from home for many reasons, including conflict with their caregivers and fear of punishment, but the problems can be addressed through reconciliation counseling, family strengthening, and material support for the extremely vulnerable.
Over the last several weeks, Street Child workers found eight children between the ages of 10 and 14 who had run away for various reasons. CRC case managers brought the children in for family tracing, provided interim care, and reunified them with their families. All eight children have been enrolled in a CRC program, and are attending school.
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